Disney executives may have been holding their breath in the run up to the latest ‘Star Wars’ film release and wondering if their huge investment in buying the franchise would pay off. If so, then within days of the official release (or even before due to huge advance box office sales) they’d have been not only breathing easy but cracking open Champagne in their Burbank headquarters.
Simply put, ‘The Force Awakens’ has contributed massively to the company’s bottom line – and will continue to do so. Along with huge box office revenues, merchandising income for the latest film and the ‘Star Wars’ franchise generally will continue far into the future.
1. The success so far
To say ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ has been a success is possibly one of the biggest understatements applying to anything – not just film box office sales.
Despite having been on general release only since late December 2015, it’s already the highest grossing film in the US ever, and by early January had already taken $140 million (over £100 million) in the UK alone.
Where some ‘Star Wars’ films such as the prequel trilogy were less successful, ‘The Force Awakens’ is currently second only in the series to the hugely popular 1977 original (when adjustments for inflation are taken into account). It makes Disney’s decision to buy the franchise from its creator George Lucas in their 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilms for $4 billion (£2.7 billion) a canny piece of business as opposed to the risk some thought it might be at the time.
It’ll certainly help Disney’s share price and make for a sound bit of business in the long term.
2. Disney’s success story continues
Disney, along with Universal, is one of the biggest and most successful film studios and ‘Star Wars’ has shown ‘The House of Mouse’ at its movie-making best. It clearly understood how to make the next Star Wars film a hit after relative disappointments of previous titles in the series, and has added the know how of handling an established franchise – something different to what it has released before – to its impressive portfolio.
‘The Force Awakens’ takes the series back to basics more with more real life locations used, just like in the 1977 original, with less use of CGI and other special effects.
3. A triumph of marketing
Disney will have learned some clever marketing techniques which can be deployed for future Star Wars releases. The corporation did a wonderful job of selling and promoting ‘The Force Awakens’ – they used trailers, teasers and a big pre-release launch of merchandise to not only alert people to the film, but show how it would be a ‘Star Wars’ film befitting the series and one fans would want to see. Thanks to the merchandise, new characters were already relatively well established among fans, who were eager to see how they fitted into events on screen.
4. The feel good factor
The fact Disney has clearly produced a critically-acclaimed film that fans and newcomers alike all seem to love will earn the corporation a great deal of kudos. Where some Star Wars films have missed the mark a little, Disney has demonstrated its understanding of the franchise and how to ‘look after’ it with ‘The Force Awakens’ being such a well received film.
Along with Star Wars being a huge profit vehicle – and more titles to follow in the years to come – it also shows Disney as a film maker focused on making good quality films honouring the franchise.